David directed by him. In his film, Blue Velvet,

David Lynch’s 1986 film ‘Blue Velvet’ is an American neo-noir mystery film, which was both written and directed by him. In his film, Blue Velvet, Lynch uses various Freudian notions of oedipal conflict, dreams and concepts of repression and internal conflict to display the connection between his characters. The characters in the film both subvert and reinforce these archetypes and this essay will demonstrate these psychoanalytic theories to a character analysis in Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

The opening scene of Blue velvet the audience is bombarded with imagery of the ‘ideal’ perfect suburban American neighbourhood as the scenery is dominated by a picturesque blue sky, clean white picket fences and children are lead across the road by a uniformed crossing guard. This introductory scene displays somewhat of a benevolent authority and demonstrations of a superego; people in town appear to be responsible, friendly and moral. The camera then pans from this idyllic scene to one that is complete opposite; to a grotesque scene deep into the ground revealing a crowd of black angry insects. They are the evil that lurks beneath the surface of our lives. In a Freudian analysis it is a signifier of the struggle between the Id and the superego. The insects are also a metaphor for the corrupt characters, so not everything is as perfect as the first minute would suggest. This clip basically sums up the whole film and this contrast seems particularly ironic.

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As the protagonist, Jeffery gets more involved with the alluring and haunted Dorothy, the line between good and evil is minimised. After a few sexual encounters between the two where she is predominately in control and exerts violence to gain a fraction of power that was taken away from her by the villain Frank, she asks Jeffery to hurt her. Initially he refuses but that all changes as he hits her in a fit of rage as retaliation for doing the same to him. This scene changes the morality of the fil significantly as Jeffery gives in full to his Id, the animal sounds in the background incorporated show the animalistic side of him being unleashed. The day after he feels remorseful due to his facts towards Dorothy which is contrasted by the darkness of night versus the sunny, there is a clear struggle between his superego and Id: we see short flash bacs of Jeffery hitting Dorothy interspersed with image of him crying in the present. However, feminists critiqued it as “postmodernist misogyny”: an exploitative portrait of a terrorised masochist. Layton, 1994.

One of Freuds most controversial theories is the Oedipus complex which Blue velvet can be conceived through. Dorothy and Frank engage in behaviours which Freud describes as sadism and masochism. Sadism is a form of sexual perversion in which sexual arousal is achieved with affliction of pain on others. Masochism is a form of sexual behaviour in which individuals derives satisfaction from the receiving of pain infliction. Freud believed that such aggression was an innate part of male sexuality. Also, frank and Dorothy’s play contains elements of a dysfunctional mother-son Oedipus fantasy. However, the more gripping Oedipus theme is Jeffery himself.

One way in which this can be considered in retrospect to Jefferies character is his Oedipal experience begins when his father was incapacitated which draws him back to his hometown to take his fathers role, in both his father’s business and at home. He then later finds a severed human ear, which becomes an unresolved issue for Jeffery and causes him distress. The castrated ear is symbolic of his castration anxiety. There are many interpretations that can be made about the Freud’s Oedipus complex, another construal is when Jeffery’s father has a stroke in the opening scene, he ceases to have any authority or sway in his son’s life as he is out of the picture after that. His mother is not a powerful character. So, when Jeffery leads himself into this criminal surreal world: encountering Dorothy and Frank who are damaged and pure evil respectively, they become his twisted parents, initiating him from innocence to experience in a Blakean way. Also, if we take the Oedipal view of things, then Jeffery wants to sleep with Dorothy and kill Frank. He achieves both things.

His distress is dismissed by the male authority figures. Although it’s dismissed it remains unresolved for Jeffery. The grief that accompanies his need to achieve resolution on the mystery of the detached ear is symbolic of the struggle a male face in their resolution of the Oedipus complex. Jeffery’s journey to achieving resolution on the ambiguity of the decapitated ear is comparative to the journey a young male faces in achieving resolution of their oedipal complex. In the Oedipus complex the young male transfers his love object from the breast to the mother and “designates attraction toward the mother and rivalry and hostility toward the father. It occurs during the phallic stage of the psycho-sexual development of the personality, approximately years three to five.

Resolution of the Oedipus complex is believed to occur by identification with the parent of the same sex and by the renunciation of sexual interest in the parent of the opposite sex.” (Encyclopaedia. com, 2002) This definition of the oedipal complex can be applied to Jeffery and Dorothy’s relationship. Jeffery the younger male develops sexual desires for Dorothy the older adult woman. Feelings of rivalry and hostility are directed at Frank due to Frank’s sexual indulgencing and possession of Dorothy. Dorothy provokes even further oedipal tension in Jeffery. His tension is caused through his desire for the sexually available but perverse female and socially desirable female (Dorothy vs.

Sandy). In Freudian theory a Childs sexual longing for his mother leads to pain and suffering before the young male can integrate into main stream sexual practices. Jeffery’s resolution of the oedipal complex is seen through the dis empowerment of the major rival for Dorothy’s sexuality, Frank, and the salvation of his actual father. Frank is killed by a gunshot fired by Jeffery and Jeffery’s dad is realised from hospital.

In Blue velvet, the character of Frank booth is first introduced when Dorothy speaks to him on the phone, during this phone call the audience can feel the tension between the two.  When he first Dorothy puts on her blue velvet dressing-gown, which we soon learn is apart of a sadistic love-making ritual which has obviously been staged before. http://ncadjarmstrong.com/year-3-postmodern-moving/babara_creed_blue_velvet.pdf  When he first arrives at her apartment you instantly get an insight into his menacing, controlling and sadist character. His first monologue to Dorothy was telling her to “shut up!” and to call him “daddy”, the ambiance in the scene was highlighted by lowered lights, a lit candle and a chair placed in front of the sofa. Frank goes on to say, “now it’s dark” continued by a sigh of relief it seems, this insinuates…

Dorothy then proceeds to sit on the chair and spread open her legs, followed by his orders to for her “show it” to him. After instructing her not to look at him, he takes out his oxygen mask and breaths into it. During an interview with David Letterman, Dennis Hopper (actors who plays  Frank Booth) claimed that the drug that his character Frank kept inhaling was amyl nitrite, which is an angina medication used recreationally as an inhalant in the disco/club scene, that which is often used to induce a euphoric state of mind. Franks insistence on Dorothy calling him ‘daddy’ is measure of his superiority over her, which is later on contradicted when he refers to himself as ‘baby’ which suggests his vulnerability and inferiority. This is a clear example of Freudian principles such as the Oedipus complex being used. The child, in this case Frank, exhibits a sexual desire towards Dorothy (of the opposite sex) who he refers to as ‘mommy’ several times. As children get older and mature the Oedipus complex dissipates as they’re taught that it is shameful and wrong to crave sexual relations with their parents, which according to Freud is replaced with something called “wish fulfilment”. But frank has not transcended this phase, as even in his adult life he still desires his mother and we can only assume that during his childhood he desires his mother. One could presume that, perhaps in early childhood, Frank experienced a form of dissatisfaction where his mother did not meet his childhood needs on some level. As a result, Frank seeks substitution in others: “I’ll fuck anything that moves”, but the “wish-fulfilment” never seems to be attained. The violence that lives within Frank Booth could suggest that his mother may have been violent with him: physically or psychologically. His frustration toward his mother and femaleness are quite evident.

The disturbing scene during which we meet Frank Booth can also be compared to that of childbirth. Expulsing another human from one’s body is painful, bloody and also quite violent. Much like Dorothy in this scene, the mother is exposed, in pain, and has little control over what is happening. However, the actual punching of and pushing into Dorothy’s genitals can also represent Frank pushing and repressing the child within. This can reiterate the supposition that Frank dreams of being inside his mother’s body. By repressing the child, Frank may seek to repress the child’s “shameful” and socially unacceptable desires.

During the sex scene, the camera angle focuses only on Dorothy’s face after Frank shouts at her not to “look” at him. Does this shame stem from wanting a sexual rapport with this mother or never achieving satisfaction with his mother? As Frank mounts Dorothy, he says “Daddy’s coming. Daddy’s coming home”.  One could question whether Frank is referring to himself, since he insists that Dorothy call him “Daddy”, or to his own father, or to Dorothy’s husband.  According to Sigmund Freud, the child going through the Oedipus complex desires the parent of the opposite sex, while hating the parent of the same sex. “It may be that we were all destined to direct our first sexual impulses toward our mothers, and our first impulses of hatred and violence toward our fathers (…)”. (Freud, 1997) The entire scene leaves the audience with the feeling that Frank is also trying to reinact a specific circumstance or scene from a dark corner of his own mind, which can bring one to believe that the man is suffering from psychoneurosis.

“Central to psychoanalytic theory, which was founded by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, is the postulated existence of an unconscious part of the mind which, among other functions, acts as a repository for repressed thoughts, feelings, and memories that are disturbing or otherwise unacceptable to the conscious mind. These repressed mental contents are typically sexual or aggressive urges or painful memories of an emotional loss or an unsatisfied longing dating from childhood.” (Britannica Online)

Furthermore, Ukrainian-American psychiatrist Dr. Boris Sidis defined psychoneurosis as a “disease of the subconscious” that stems from early childhood: “A long series of shocks in childhood must first have shattered the individuality of the patient before the given particular shock can produce the psychopathic upheaval”, thus also supporting my belief that Frank Booth experienced some type of childhood trauma, most likely involving his mother (perhaps through rejection and/or violence), which causes Frank to suffer from psychoneurosis. Interestingly, “frank psychosis” is also a term used for schizophrenia. This also gives us insight into Frank Booth and his obsessions. It may explain his many outbursts during which he seems to be addressing someone who is not present.

The disturbing scene during which we meet Frank Booth can also be compared to that of childbirth. Expulsing another human from one’s body is painful, bloody and also quite violent. Much like Dorothy in this scene, the mother is exposed, in pain, and has little control over what is happening. However, the actual punching of and pushing into Dorothy’s genitals can also represent Frank pushing and repressing the child within. This can reiterate the supposition that Frank dreams of being inside his mother’s body. By repressing the child, Frank may seek to repress the child’s “shameful” and socially unacceptable desires.

The psychoanalytic film theory is a is a school of academic thought that evokes of the concepts of psychoanalysts of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Jacques Lacan, a theoretical psychoanalyst. The theory is separated in two waves, the fist occurred in the 1960s/1970s and the second wave occurred in the 1980s/1990s. The psychoanalytic theories believe that like dreams, cinema provides a medium for expressing desire, memory and trauma and also functions as a significant cultural vehicle for structuring our individual desires and giving them a (highly visual) language for expressing, thus it has an ideological function. Dreams can be considered analogues to dreams and qualify as manifestations of the unconscious. The unconscious of the film maker and spectator.  Cinema mimes both mind and the world.  This theory believes that cinema is the unconscious is structured as a language. In 1986, David lynch both writes and directs his film Blue Velvet. According to the Psychoanalytic film theory, due to this being written by David Lynch himself, this can be interpreted as him expressing his unconscious thoughts through the art of cinema.

During the film, the main character Jeffery (played by Kyle MacLachlan) has a dream


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